Ontario has announced its plan to renovate the Macdonald Block Complex, a move which is expected to reduce the cost of government operations and help the province meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Macdonald Block is a 45-year-old complex consisting of the Hearst, Hepburn, Mowat and Ferguson towers. Altogether, the complex houses 12 cabinet ministers, 15 Ontario ministries and 3,600 public servants. Macdonald Block has never undergone a major renovation and the building’s core systems, including electrical, water, cooling and heating, are all in need of replacement.
An independent, third-party expert panel concluded that the complex requires an extensive reconstruction. It estimates that the government’s average current spending, including operating expenses and capital expenses required to maintain the buildings to their current state, would fall from an annual average of $144 million to $121 million over 50 years. This average annual net savings of over $20 million for the next 50 years is in addition to an estimated return of all costs for the renovation. Savings will be achieved through reduced operating costs, lower energy and capital maintenance expenditure and the reduction of over 380,000 square feet of third-party leases across downtown Toronto.
The project will also adhere to the recently released Climate Change Action Plan, which commits to making provincial government operations carbon neutral by 2018. The Queen’s Park Reconstruction Project will improve the performance of these government buildings while also helping the province meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“Ontarians and the government are doing their part in the global effort to fight climate change,” said Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, in a press release. “Through this project, our government is demonstrating leading practices in green infrastructure, low carbon building retrofits, design, construction and technologies to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The project is estimated to be completed over eight years. Employees will begin moving out of the complex in late 2018, with construction scheduled to occur between 2019 and 2023. The newly-reconstructed complex will be ready for employees in 2023 to 2024. Whitney Block, one of the province’s oldest office buildings, will also be renovated, including the replacement of windows, updates to the heating system and repairs to the façade.